The unforgettable places in the history of Genesis & Co., through audio, video, documents and much more.
On July 13, 1985 Phil Collins is the protagonist of a sensational double performance at Live Aid, one in London, the other in Philadelphia, on the other side of the Atlantic.
Around three in the afternoon Phil and Sting take the stage at Wembley, greeted by a roar of the audience.
But not everything goes smoothly: Sting forgets the words of Every Breath You Take.
"A moment before entering the scene, with the utmost ease, Sting warns me:" By the way, sometimes I mess with words ... ". A moment later, standing in front of the piano, I struggle to read the verses while he left for the bribe on the other side of the stage: «Every breath ... every move ... every bond ...» ", Phil recalls in his autobiography "No, I'm not dead yet", trad. Anna Mioni, Mondadori.
Not only. The day is very hot, even in London. Phil again:
"The stage is white, the sun is shining and one dies of heat. I am so sweaty that while I play Against All Odds a finger slips on the piano keys. A real cue, I almost shiver the eighty thousand fans who fill Wembley. And not only them , that wrong note has gone all over the world. If we add the Every Breath mess, I'm already making the beginner figure. "
Phil also performs at Wembley In The Air Tonight, poi, together with Sting, here Long Long Way to Go:
London's Phil Collins performance ends like this. But not his long day. A waits for him Concord for the United States. Remember Phil:
"I didn't want to go for the only braggar who played at both concerts, and they had assured me that Duran Duran would also fly to Philadelphia. Except that, for some reason, Duran Duran perform only in America. In short, at any moment the atmosphere changes completely. "
Indeed, halfway through the flight of Concord, a television link from the plane is scheduled. There he is:
And here's how Phil remembers it:
"In television studios in London, the presenters of the with the BBC fuel the excitement of the audience. «Here we are live with Phil Collins from the Concorde booth! How's it going, Phil? "
«All right, we are halfway ...»
Billy Connolly, Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! and Pamela Stephenson, the guests in the studio, are perplexed. They hear nothing but indistinct chicks and interference. "
Arrived by helicopter from JFK Airport of New York at JFK Stadium Phil Philadelphia accompanies Eric Clapton on drums White Room:
Phil remenbers: "The set with Eric is fun and carefree. With his drummer Jamie we avoid cutting our way, and the result is splendid."
Then he performs alone. Again Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) e In the Air Tonight:
So it is the most delicate moment of the reunion of Led Zeppelin. Phil will play with them. His friend Robert Plant had invited him, even before the other former members were involved and Live Aid turned into their sensational return together. But even before going on stage, the atmosphere is not the best.
Phil: "Robert alone: an adorable guy. Robert and everything that has to do with the Zeppelins: it's like a strange and malevolent chemical reaction is produced. It's all dark, even diabolical. Jimmy is obviously - let's say - nervous and irritable . (...) now they are introducing me to John Paul Jones, who is silent as a fish. Then it's Tony Thompson's turn. I realize that he treats me with extreme coldness. (...) I talk to him about the risks of the two drummers on stage: I have been doing it with Genesis and my band for years, I know perfectly well how easy it is to go downhill. The secret, as I learned at my expense, is to be simple. Tony's gaze, however, tells me that he does not know what to do with the "tips" of an opportunist who has just landed from overseas with the Concorde. "
Phil introduces Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin (here is the whole exhibition):
perform Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love e Stairway to Heaven.
But Phil doesn't have a good memory of the performance: "From the beginning I realize that things are not going in the right direction. From my position I feel little Robert, but enough to realize that it is not at its best. The same goes for Jimmy.
I don't even remember playing Rock and Roll, but I know I did. But I remember long and atrocious minutes of what Robert disdainfully calls "knitting", or the effect drumming (...) beating the air to avoid contributing to the disaster. If I had known about the other drummer, I would have called out well before I got to Philadelphia.
On stage, I keep my eyes glued to Tony Thompson. I have to go after him, because he beats like a damned man and has decided to ignore my advice. (...) The point is that I felt frighteningly uncomfortable, if I could I would have left the stage in the middle of Stairway, if not before. But can you imagine the reactions? "
And with some relief that Phil completes the performance with Led Zeppelin. Now he "only" has to face an interview with them. Here she is:
Phil again from his autobiography: "Hunter starts asking simple questions, but nobody takes him seriously. Robert and Jimmy give vague and impertinent answers, John Paul Jones is always silent as a fish.
I'm sorry about Hunter. He is live worldwide and the audience is watching him with bated breath, but the boys are making him look like an idiot. And so, despite not having any title, I try to save the salvable by answering me. "
Backstage Collins also has breath to summarize this long day in a single interview, still with Hunter:
But in his autobiography the summary is far more cutting and effective: "Wembley, Heathrow, Concorde, the JFK (airport and stadium), the four performances, one of them infernal ".
A final curiosity: on the Concord Collins had met actress and singer Cher, who was unaware of the concerts. After reaching the United States, she witnessed the one in Philadelphia and you can see her performing in the final collective song We Are the World.
Phil had also been invited to attend, but had declined from exhaustion (and not only, given how it had gone with Plant & Co.).
"In the hotel I turn on the TV and see the last spasms of the Philadelphia concert. Wait, who's the one on stage? Cher - says Phil-.
It is the worthy conclusion of a day of madness. Not only has she managed to get in, but she has a microphone in her hand and is singing We Are the World. Maybe just my verse. "
Phil Collins' memories are taken from:
Horizons Radio News
Sign up to our newsletter
Sign up to our newsletter
Listen to Genesis & Co. also on: